Why your online marketing mix might need to include SEO and SEM
A lot of business owners ask me whether they should be looking at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to anchor their online marketing strategy. In a lot of cases, the answer might be both.
The thing that’s often misunderstood about the SEO vs. SEM discussion is that they work in completely different ways and can be used to achieve different ends.
Search Engine Optimization is the equivalent of a workout regimen — it takes a long time to get from “Joe Six Pack” to “Joe, who has a Six Pack”, and there’s no telling how long it will take you to get into really great shape if you get there at all. Despite really compelling email offers to the contrary, there are absolutely no guarantees in SEO and no matter what we do, who we pay, how hard we work, the final decisions as to who gets ranked where rest solely with Google. And any web marketing strategy that rests on the assumption that Google can be beaten/outsmarted/gamed for more than a few weeks is fatally flawed.
Search Engine Marketing (also known as Google AdWords, Pay-Per-Click, PPC and other known aliases), on the other hand, works like an energy drink or a shot of adrenaline. It gets you to the first page of Google quickly and without a lot of effort. But, like an energy drink, it doesn’t last forever. If I’ve gotten buff in the gym and I stop going for a week, my body isn’t going to turn to jelly right away. But three hours after I drink a Red Bull, my “up” is gone. And similarly , once my AdWords budget runs out, so does my tenure at the top of Google’s paid search results.
Combining SEO and SEM though can produce a balanced online marketing campaign approach that yields both short and long-term benefits, a controllable budget and measurable ROI.